Periodontal Disease/Gum Disease
If your hands bled when you washed them, you would be concerned. Yet, many people think it’s normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss. Periodontal disease (commonly called ‘gum diseases) is a primary cause of tooth loss and is the number one disease in the world. In fact, 86% of the population in the United States exhibits some form of periodontal disease, ranging from mild gingivitis to advanced periodontitis affecting all ages. Not just senior citizens. Periodontal disease is a silent disease and most often there are no warning signs. It can take many months or even years for symptoms to develop. Once a person is aware of symptoms, the disease has usually progressed beyond the early stages. Common warning signs of periodontal disease include bleeding. Red and swollen gums. Receded gums, pain, loose teeth and bad breath.
When left untreated, what started as localized gum infection and inflammation will result in unhealthy consequences in many organs of the body. Bacteria and mediators of inflammation are carried by the blood and move throughout the body. These destructive materials are recognized to be the root of heart disease. Diabetes, stroke, pregnancy complications, kidney disease, certain cancers, as well as many other conditions and medical diseases.
Researchers are studying possible connections between gum disease and:
- Atherosclerosis and heart disease — Gum disease may increase the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease, although the extent of this connection is unclear. Gum disease also is believed to worsen existing heart disease.
- Stroke — Gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke that is caused by blocked arteries.
- Diabetes — People with diabetes and periodontal disease may be more likely to have trouble controlling their blood sugar than diabetics with healthy gums.
- Respiratory disease — Gum disease may cause lung infections and worsen existing lung conditions when bacteria from the mouth reach the lungs.
With these alarming facts about the dangers of gum disease, it is even more alarming to know that although more than 86% of Americans suffer from some form of periodontitis. Only 3% of these Americans seek gum treatment and regular ongoing preventive care.